Picture: Rabbi Arik Aschermanlooks at the results of the harassment in the orchards of Moriyer, in which tens of trees were cut down and destroyed.
Following the severe damage to the Palestinian olive harvest, the Human Rights organizations turned to the Minister of Defense with an urgent request to organize effective protection for the Palestinians and their property.
On Sunday (14.10.12), four human rights’ organizations – Rabbis for Human Rights,the ACRI, Yesh Din and B’Tselem – turned to the Minister of Defense, the government’s legal adviser, and army and police officials in the West Bank, asking them to protect the Palestinians and their property during the olive harvest, according to the principles that were outlined, among other places, in the Supreme Court Morar ruling – (Supreme Court 9593/04 Rashad Morar vs. the army commander in Judea and Samaria).
The army’s protection is at present focused on protection during the days of the actual olive harvest, at coordinated times, whereas the destructions are carried out at other times, mostly at night, and the attacks are in areas not requiring coordination. From past experience, it is absolutely clear that the army can also deal with these phenomena, with a reasonable investment. Thus, for example, the stationing of the Samaria unit of the Border Police around Havat Gilad in the month before the olive harvest in 2009, prevented incidents in the area that year.
Last week was exceptional in respect of the scope of thefts and cases of destruction of Palestinian olive orchards, especially in the vicinity of settlements and outposts known as places where disturbances are likely. According to preliminary estimates, more than 450 Palestinian trees have been damaged – more or less severely – this week (to expand: Two serious incidents at the time of the Palestinian olive harvest – 82 trees cut down in Kariot according to Palestinian reports and olives from 130 trees stolen in Parata.)
Following is a chronology of the damage to Palestinian orchards and olive harvesting:
- On 7.10.12, old olive trees in al-Jania were destroyed on the land belonging to the Abu Fahaida family,500 metres north of the outpost of Zait Ra’anan. Members of the family discovered the damage when they went to harvest the olives on their land.
- On 7.10.12, farmers from the village of Beit yallu, when they went to harvest their olive trees, were attacked with stones by about ten masked settlers who came from the direction of the outpost set up outside the settlement of Nahliel. Fighting broke out there between the Palestinians and the settlers. It is suspected that the settlers also set fire to part of the land. Soldiers who arrived had difficulty controlling the settlers and drove the Palestinian harvesters away from the area, by shooting in the air.
- On 9.10.12, Palestinian farmers living in the villages of Parata and Amatin came to harvest the olives on their land which lies south and west of the area where the outpost of Havat Gilad has been set up. When they arrived, the Palestinians discovered that unknown men had already harvested the trees and stolen the produce, in total about 220 trees were damaged and their olives stolen. This occurred on the background of other violent incidents which had occurred at the same orchard a few days earlier.
- On 9.10.12, inhabitants of the village of Kariot discovered that about 80 trees on the land belonging to different families, had been severely damaged. The land lies southwest of the village, two kilometers away from the area where the settlement of Eli has been established. The inhabitants had been there the day before and it was clear that the destruction had taken place during the night.
- On 10.10.12, the inhabitants of al-Moriyar discovered that about 140 olive trees had been destroyed on Palestinian land and the great majority of them had been cut off at the stump. It should be pointed out that the land is about 100 meters Adi Ad. (Facebook album photos of the trees cut down at Moriyar.)
Harvest of tears
The Jasra family from Tarkumia makes its living from its olive orchards which are on private land next to the settlement of Adora, west of Hebron. They used to hostility from the army, but they did not expect what happened on Saturday, 6.10.12 during the olive harvest. On Wednesday of that week when family was driven away by the security forces using tear gas, but Rabbi Arik Ascherman spoke to the head of DCO (Army liason unit) in the area on this matter. He understood the mistake and promised that there would be no further problems when they returned to harvest their olives. However, as is seen in this video, when they returned they were again driven away with tear gas and stun grenades. Phone calls from an RHR lawyer to the DCO eventually returned the farmers to their trees.
Watch: The full report on Taayosh, which observed the activities of RHR during the olive harvest.
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